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NASCAR To Ban Drivers From Texting
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (CAP) - In an effort to improve the safety of its races for drivers, pit crew and fans alike, officials for NASCAR have announced plans to ban the circuit's drivers from texting during races beginning next year. The ban does not extend to practice runs, where drivers will still be allowed to text freely.
"NASCAR drivers are just regular American citizens who happen to drive really, really fast on a closed track for a living," said CEO Brian France. "So in order to better connect with our fan base, we like to keep tabs on laws and safety precautions that govern how Americans drive and incorporate those into our racing guidelines.
"Besides," added France, "most of what these guys are texting really isn't all that interesting or entertaining anyway."
CAP News obtained transcripts of NASCAR's pilot "Tweet 'n Ride" program where drivers tweeted their thoughts and feelings during last year's Pocono 500 to give the fans a sense of riding along with them during the race. A few of the tweets included:
Jimmie Johnson - "Turned left. Turned left. Turned left. Turned left. Turned left. Turned left."
Tony Stewart - "Oh no. Just peed my pants. Again."
David Stremme - "Man, it sucks being so far back that I have no chance to win. I wonder what would happen if I just gunned it straight into the wall."
Then, following Stremme's crash into the wall on Lap 112 - "Man, that chick in the front row has a nice rack. NICE!"
NASCAR officials do expect some opposition from the cell phone industry, but safety experts are applauding the move as "responsible" on the part of the league with speeds that can climb in excess of 200mph.
"This really sets a good example for the many dozens of fans who love watching NASCAR and emulating the behavior of the drivers," said Fran Frommer, chairman of the National Institute for the Study of Distracted Driving. "Although, not many NASCAR fans actually have cell phones, come to think of it. Or computers. Or all that many teeth, for that matter.
"But the intent - the intent is very, very good," Frommer noted.
In his press release announcing the policy change, France did leave the door open for further safety improvements down the road. "If this goes as well as we think it might," he said, "we may look into banning our drivers from drinking and driving in a couple years as well. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves."
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